In this third and final installment in my series on small business I'm talking about mature businesses that are dealing with unresolved challenges. At one time or another, everyone is dealing with unresolved challenges. For some of us it's a recurring theme; some businesses are actually on the verge of disaster. Operating a business is hard work and when challenges are thrown in it can be exceptionally difficult to manage. We're busy, busy, busy and for that reason we tend to look for the obvious answer (some would say, the easy way out). In the end it's not about how much time we spend or how we spend it. It’s about whether or not we're going to stay in business.
I'm an advocate of the "keep it simple stupid" (KISS) principle. I'm also an advocate of the 'if it's broke, fix it" principal. You know something isn't right. You know that it has to be resolved. I'm all for taking the most expeditious approach to fixing something, but the bottom line is the cure has got to work! So here's what you do- assess the situation and identify the obvious cause of the problem. Next, implement plans to correct the cause. Finally, (this is the most important step), assess the corrective action. If it works, good for you, you really did get out of this easily. If it doesn’t you have some very important work ahead. By the way, nice as this approach might be, it doesn't often work.
And When Simple Doesn't Work...
It amazes me how folks confidently identify the problem, it's source and the solution and then stand by WAITING for the cure to work. SYMPTOMS of a problem are what we observe, and they're quite seductive. That is, they keep us from identifying the underlying illness (cause). When simple does not work it’s time to get busy diagnosing what's really going on.
You must first accept that “you don’t know what’s wrong”. How? Easy, the corrective action failed. Diagnosing the real problem isn’t rocket science, it’s meticulous. You started with the obvious and now you start peeling away, layer by layer until the real source of the problem is found. Here’s a hint, those closest to the problem have the most trouble finding the problem. When things get real tough, hire someone with a 10,000-foot view (a shameless plug but it’s true).
Diagnosing the source of our business problems is vital; I’ve observed first-hand how failure to do so ruins businesses. Yes, it’s time consuming, yes it takes away from other “important things” and it’s sure not exciting. But, staying in business is your dream, right? Enough said!